Listen to a press briefing outside the federal court in Toronto on Tuesday afternoon with remarks from Syed Hussan from the Justice for Mahjoub Network, lawyer Paul Slansky and Mohammad Mahjoub.
From the press release:
Egyptian Refugee Mohammad Mahjoub was in court again yesterday in a bid to end proceedings against him after a court-ordered inquiry into a Department of Justice seizure of his confidential legal documents found multiple instances of prejudice that make continued trial against Mr. Mahjoub untenable.
Last summer, the government seized boxes of confidential materials belonging to Mr. Mahjoub and his lawyers from the court, viewed and copied them and mixed them with their own. The Court ordered an independent third party, Prothonotory Aalto, to supervise the separation of these documents. The results of Prothonotory Aalto's supervised review are being presented to the court. They show multiple instances of Highly Privileged documents and Extremely Privileged documents viewed by the Department of Justice.
"The Department of Justice seized my legal documents and misled the courts," Mr. Mahjoub said. "I've lost all my confidence in the Department of Justice and the security establishment."
Mr. Mahjoub has been detained without charge under a "security certificate" since June 2000. Despite numerous scandals - from CSIS listening in to calls with his lawyers, to the use of illegal information obtained under torture - the case has dragged on for almost 12 years.
An immigration "security certificate" is a measure that allows the government to indefinitely detain and deport immigrants on the basis of their profile. In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Charkaoui decision that security certificate legislation failed to meet Canadian standards of fairness, particularly in its use of secret hearings. However, the government successfully reintroduced the law in 2008, and the detainees were forced to begin all over again. The legislation is now the subject of a new charter challenge brought by Mohamed Harkat. The Federal Court of Appeal will render its decision on the Harkat challenge tomorrow.
"The principle of solicitor - client privilege is a fundamental of the right to a fair trial. Mr. Mahjoub's right to a fair trial has been repeatedly compromised over the past 12 years and continued legal proceedings against him place the very ideas of justice into greater disrepute," said Kate Oja from the Law Union of Ontario. The Law Union of Ontario is one of twenty organizations behind a statement calling for an immediate end to proceedings against Mr. Mahjoub (www.supportmahjoub.org/support/feb-2012-statement/).
"Its hard for us to differentiate between reckless negligence or willful negligence on part of the Department of Justice," said Syed Hussan from the Justice for Mahjoub Network. "The sum impact is the same, Mr. Mahjoub has no ability to defend himself in this court anymore. The only possible decision that can be made is that the charges are dropped."
Mr. Mahjoub agreed. "Giving me my freedom back is just one part of the justice I deserve."
The hearings are scheduled to continue today and tomorrow at the Federal Court. The Court could then rule at any time to end the proceedings. If the Court rules in favour of the government, Mr. Mahjoub will be forced to return to court in May to continue his long attempt to prove that government claims about his profile, based on secret evidence obtained under torture, are not reasonable.
Three men remain under security certificates in Canada. In addition to Mr. Mahjoub and Mr. Harkat, Mr. Jaballah has been detained without charge since 2001. He is now living under intrusive conditions in Toronto. Security certificates against Hassan Almrei (arrested in 2001) and Adil Charkaoui (arrested 2003) were thrown out in 2009. Neither man has received an apology for their years of arbitrary detention.